President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed his commitment to the development of the Niger Delta region, saying the master plan to fast-track development in the region is underway.
The president, who spoke at a civic reception at Asaba, yesterday, as part of his one-day official visit and commissioning of projects in Delta state, said that the Nigeria Naval Logistics Command at Oghara, is strategic to the greater achievement of the master-plan.
According to him, “I am irrevocably committed to the development of the Niger Delta region and I can assure you that the full implementation of the Niger Delta master plan is underway”
He explained that the Presidency has devised new strategies in sustaining the prevailing peace in the region by meeting regularly with governors in the region.
“I now hold a monthly meeting with governors in the region to ensure that the amnesty and post-amnesty programme is achieved with an aim to stop militancy”.
“The governor has done very well and we will encourage him to succeed”
At Oghara, Ethiope west Local Government area, Pressident Goodluck Jonathan charged the military to focus more on area that would make them useful to the civil society in time of peace than spend all their time on management and operation of arms and ammunitions.
He gave the advice at Oghara when he commissioned the Nigeria Navy Logistic command build aand donated by delta state government to the Nigeria navy.
The president also commissioned the ultra modern Delta state University Teaching Hospital which was started by the former Governor Chief James Onanefe Ibori and completed By Governor Uduaghan.
He said the federal government is considering areas were the military can be useful to the civil society by engaging in programmes such as construction as it is been done in other countries of the world.
President Jonathan commended the foresight of the initiator of the project which he said would enhance the operations of the Nigeria navy.
The president who was on a one day working visit to Delta state applauded governor Uduaghan and the people of Delta state for the laudable project, he however enjoined the navy to make a Judicious use of the facility while calling for adequate maintenance.
According to him, “we have seen a situation where other state come to the federal government to demand for a refund of whatever maintenance they have carried out on any federal project but in this case this facility is built from the scratch on a virgin land with nobody coming to the federal government to demand for refund this kind of gesture is highly commendable”.
The Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ishaya Ibrahim who could not hide his joy commended the delta state government for its kind gesture building the logistic command for the navy.
The opening ceremony was graced by dignitaries from the military both serving and retire, these includes the Chief of Defense staff Air Marshall Paul Dike, CNS Vice Admiral Ishaya Ibrahim, The GOC 2nd division Maj. Gen. Lawrence Ngubane , Commander of the Joint Task force Maj. Gen. Sakin Bello, former Chief of General Staff; Admiral Mike Akhigbe and other.
The Vice president also commissioned the ultra Modern Delta state University Teaching Hospital at Oghara, he expressed delight at the level of infrastructure in the institution saying it is higher than all he have seen in other parts of the country.
The commissioning was witnessed by Governors of Edo state Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Akwa Ibom Godswill Akpabio, Anambra Dr. Peter Obi, Cross River Liyel Imoke and Imo Ikedi Ohakin who also expressed delight at the quality of facilities in the hospital.
In his address, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta state expressed Joy that these projects have come to fruition even as he thank President Jonathan for finding time to come to the state and commission the projects.
He said the state government will continue to deliver on its dividends of democracy to the people of the state. He also assures the federal government that the state will stand out among other for infrastructural development.
PDP Achievements’ve Killed APC, Others In Rivers -Wike
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has stated that the achievements of the Peoples Democratic Party-led administration have killed other political parties in the state.
Wike, made this assertion during the reception organised by the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to welcome thousands of APC members back into PDP.
Leaders of the defectors included the former Director of Finance and Administration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr Henry Ogiri; APC South-South Administrative Officer, Gloria Boma; Mr. Lolo Ibieneye and Alhaji Hassan Douglas.
The governor asserted that prior to 2015, the APC had promised to transform the country, fix the East-West Road, and provide good governance to Nigerians.
But, on the contrary, he said the APC has continued to give excuses for its colossal failure after it orchestrated the unfortunate conspiracy to remove President Goodluck Jonathan from office.
“Are things better today? So, why do you allow people to tell you lies. How long can you continue to listen to the lies of the All Progressives Congress? They have nothing for Nigerians. It is unfortunate that there was a conspiracy to remove a Niger Delta person as President”, Wike noted.
The governor, who bemoaned the marginalisation of Rivers State, regretted that several years after the Federal Government awarded the N120billion Bodo-Bonny Road, it has failed to provide its counterpart funding, allowing only the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to finance the project.
“Look at: since they started the Bonny-Bodo Road, what has happened? As we speak, the Federal Government has not released their counterpart funding for that road. Now, NLNG said let us do it, and then, deduct it from the tax we are going to pay to the Federal Government. Is it how they have been doing in other states?”, he asked.
The governor noted that ahead to the 2023 general election, the APC has, again, started making false promises to construct a University of Transport, develop a deep sea port and industrial park in the state.
“By next year, political activities will kick-start. When will they build infrastructure again? Somebody will come and tell you people, Federal Government has approved industrial pack; they have approved deep sea port in Bonny”, he said.
Wike said that the PDP provides the only hope for Nigerians, and congratulated the defectors for their courage to return to the party.
He assured them that they would be accorded the same respect like every other party.
“I thank you for this bold step taken to join the PDP. Only a wicked man who does not like good things will not see what we are doing in Port Harcourt. With our achievements, we have killed any party that wants to raise its head. This is done by your support. On May 27, 2015, somebody said we can’t pay salary. Today, we are not talking about payment of salary, we are employing 5,000 youths into the state civil service”, he said.
The Rivers State Chairman of the PDP, Amb Desmond Akawor noted that no local government in the state was without any development project by Governor Wike.
According to him, this has continued to endear the people to the PDP.
Akawor, who gave each leader of the defectors umbrella and party membership cards, said the returnees were convinced that the PDP was a party that believes in good governance and means well for Rivers people.
Speaking on behalf of the defectors, Dr. Henry Ogiri, said they were motivated to return to the PDP because of the quality of people-oriented projects embarked upon by the governor.
He promised, on behalf of the others, to be loyal to PDP and work to ensure that APC does not exist anymore in the state.
2021 Budget Provides Gratuities For Retirees, RSG Confirms
The Rivers State Government says it has made provision for the payment of pensions and gratuities for state retirees in the 2021 budget.
The state Commissioner for Finance, Barrister Isaac Kamalu, who disclosed this at a one-day public consultation on the 2021 Budget organised by the ministry in Port Harcourt, yesterday, also said that the ongoing recruitment of 5,000 youths into the State Civil Service was captured in the budget.
Kamalu, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs Titilola Cline, at the event, said the state government would revive the Rivers State Micro Finance Agency with a view to ensuring that young entrepreneurs in the state get access to credit facilities to finance their businesses.
Another key focus of the budget, according to the commissioner, includes improving the agricultural sector through the distribution of seedlings and other farm inputs to farmers while the cassava processing plant at Afam would employ 3,000 youths.
Kamalu also said that all regional hospitals would be properly equipped to deliver quality health care services to the people of the state.
Also, in a keynote address entitled: “Budget And Realities of Covid-19”, the commissioner said that the Covid-19 pandemic dealt a terrible blow on the implementation of the 2020 budget.
He further said that the Rivers State Development Plan adopted in 2017 was meant to better the lives of the citizenry, while efforts were also being made to boost the internally generating revenue profile of the state in the upcoming year.
The commissioner said that time has come for the people to play active role in the realization of the goal of the budget by not only investing but patronizing locally-made goods in the state, adding that by so doing, unemployment would be reduced, while more money would be ploughed into the coffers of the government.
Kamalu described the forum with stakeholders as an evidence of transparency of what the government was doing as far as budget preparations were concerned, assuring that imputes of key stakeholders would be reflected in the budget.
A cross section of participants, who spoke at the forum, described the provision of money for pension and gratuities for retirees of the state civil service as a welcome development.
They also called for more attention to be given to the agricultural sector, while urbanization programme should be extended across the 23 local government areas of the state to decongest Port Harcourt.
They also commended the government for the provision of employment opportunities for 5,000 youths into the state civil service.
FG Owes 3,504 Housing Contractors N69.9bn -Fashola
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, said his ministry owes 3,504 local contractors in the housing sector N69.9billion.
Fashola disclosed this when he appeared before the National Assembly Committee on Housing to defend his ministry’s 2021 budget proposal.
The minister sought the assistance of the lawmakers on how to defray the liabilities because the N76.4billion allocated to the ministry in the 2021 budget would be grossly inadequate to execute its proposed 186 projects across the country.
Fashola asked for understanding of the lawmakers to assist defraying the liabilities.
He said 2,601 of the contractors being owed N33.9billion executed zonal intervention projects popularly referred to as constituency projects.
He urged the lawmakers to identify the affected projects in their constituencies that had attracted huge liabilities and pick them as their special intervention programmes for 2021 instead of proposing new ones.
However, lawmakers rejected the idea and asked the minister to propose a separate budget for the purpose of paying the debts owed contractors that handled the building of schools under the special intervention programmes.
Fashola said: “As pointed out, if you look at page six of my presentation the big ticket items there is this housing project of N30billion. The next one is special projects.
“What is special project? Your constituents? Because in Nigeria, we don’t feel comfortable when we are discussing in public.
“Special projects are your constituents and those are the people on whose behalf you are here.
“They are the primary schools, the mathematics centres, the skills centres…that is what it is. So, we have to make a choice.
“And that is why we are saying instead of starting new ones next year let’s look for possible solution.
“Let’s behave like the very smart people that we are, and so, instead of starting a new one next year, let’s use next year’s appropriation to finish this so that we can pay those small contractors and there will not be default in the system.
“That is why we are here. But if we choose to say no, it is Ministry of Works’ problem, it is not Ministry of Works’ problem. It is Nigeria’s problem.”
At this point, Chairman, Senate Committee on Housing, Sam Egwu (Ebonyi North), interjected, saying that money should be appropriated specifically for completing such projects.
Egwu said: “On this issue we have said on these areas that you appropriate it in the budget so that the money will be meant specifically for completing the projects and so that they don’t remain abandoned.
“Nobody is suggesting that you abandon it. We are just saying that instead of using the money for the current year to pay liabilities, you appropriate money for it from the beginning so that money for that will be used to clear outstanding debts.
“I am not trying to stop what you are saying but it is not necessary for us to dwell on something we have already got a possible solution to.”
Fashola said his ministry would concentrate on the completion of the 2,140 units of houses under the National Housing Programme spread across 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
He also said that the ministry has plans to complete the ongoing federal secretariats in Anambra, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Nasarawa, Osun and Zamfara.
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